updated 7:33 AM MST, Nov 17, 2017

Minibus blast kills 21 in southern Syria


(Reuters) - Twenty-one people, including four children and six women, were killed when a minibus exploded in the southern town of Noa early on Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

Opposition activists told the Observatory the minibus drove over a mine planted by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. There was no immediate comment from the government.

The explosion was reported in rebel-held territory in Syria's Deraa province but there are also army troops in the nearby base of Tel al-Jumaa, which is besieged.

Assad's forces are battling a civil war which grew out of protests against his family's four-decade grip on the country.

Violence has continued despite pleas from regional Arab and Muslim organisations for a ceasefire to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al Adha.

The British-based Observatory, which is opposed to Assad, reported clashes in most provinces on Wednesday and said that war planes had been deployed to the eastern desert city of Deir al-Zor.

The group said at least 27 government soldiers had been killed during intense clashes in Deir al-Zor over the past two days although rebels gave a figure more than double that.

(Reporting by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

  • Written by Abdullahi
  • Category: Middle East

Gunmen kidnap 7 Red Cross workers in Syria

BEIRUT (AP) - Gunmen kidnapped a team of seven workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross after stopping their convoy early Sunday along a roadside in northern Syria, a spokesman said.

Simon Schorno, a spokesman for the ICRC in Damascus, said the abduction took place near the town of Saraqeb in Idlib province around 11:30 a.m. local time as they team was returning to Damascus. Six of the people kidnapped are ICRC staff workers and one is a volunteer from the Syrian Red Crescent, he said.

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  • Category: Middle East

Syria arms inspectors face unprecedented danger: UN

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations warned Monday that inspectors face a year-long mission of unprecedented danger in trying to destroy Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, as rebels launched a major offensive.

In a report to the UN Security Council seen by AFP, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said it would take 100 foreign experts to complete "an operation the likes of which, quite simply, has never been tried before."

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  • Category: Middle East

Syria weapons destruction starts

International inspectors began destroying Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons and the machinery used to create it, a United Nations official said on Sunday.

The inspectors racing against a tight deadline aiming to eliminate president Bashar Assad's chemical weapons programme within nine months.

The move kicks off the ambitious programme, prompted by a chemical weapons attack in mid-August that killed hundreds of civilians on the outskirts of Damascus and brought a rare consensus at the UN.

  • Written by Abdullahi
  • Category: Middle East